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Lawsuit discussed in closed session

Alex Doty • Jan 10, 2017 at 12:00 PM

The Grand Haven Township Board met in closed session Monday night to discuss the lawsuit filed against it by North Ottawa Community Hospital regarding the Health Pointe medical development.

The Township Board discussed the lawsuit with its attorney, Ron Bultje, during the work session behind closed doors.

“Everybody was surprised for the lawsuit, and I’ll leave it at that,” Township Manager Bill Cargo said of Monday night’s meeting.

Cargo said that because of a potential conflict of interest, Township Supervisor Mark Reenders chose not to attend the work session. Reenders is employed by the North Ottawa Community Health System.

“I think that was the proper decision,” Cargo said.

NOCH filed the lawsuit in Ottawa County Circuit Court at the end of December, naming Grand Haven Township, Grand Haven Township Planner Stacey Fedewa and Health Pointe as defendants. The lawsuit seeks to order the township to withdraw the planned unit development approval for the Health Pointe project, and it also asks for monetary damages against Health Pointe in excess of $25,000.

According to a statement released by NOCH officials, the decision to proceed with the zoning violation civil suit occurred at the Grand Haven hospital’s Board of Trustees’ meeting in December. It challenges the township’s approval of the Health Pointe project in the township’s Commercial PUD district.

In March 2016, the Township Board gave the OK to build the 120,000-square-foot Health Pointe medical building — a joint venture between Holland Hospital and Spectrum Health — which is currently under construction off 172nd Avenue, between Robbins Road and Comstock Street. It is expected to include primary care, urgent care, radiology, laboratory, specialty physicians, CT, MRI and ambulatory surgical services.

According to Cargo, a Feb. 27 hearing is scheduled in front of Ottawa County Circuit Judge Jon Van Allsburg to have the case dismissed.

“The attorneys for the township will provide a response to what NOCH claimed in their filing by Jan. 31, because we accepted the filing from NOCH on Jan. 3,” Cargo said. “We have 28 days to respond.”

Cargo also noted that township attorneys will try to get Fedewa removed from the lawsuit.

“We do consider it an abuse of process that Stacey Fedewa, the township planner, was named in this lawsuit,” Cargo said. “She’s not a decision maker, and they will be seeking to have her removed from the case immediately.”

Last month, in response to the suit, Health Pointe leadership released a statement that says they are aware of the lawsuit filed by NOCH, and noted that they had “great respect for the legal process and look forward to resolution of this pending litigation. We strongly believe in our mission and will continue our construction project. Our commitment remains focused on the needs of our current and future patients in northern Ottawa County.”

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